Purim with Rav Umberto
Purim with Rav Umberto Piperno
Ardith, Reading of the Megillah, Traditional Italian songs, Chiacchiere and frappe di Haman
Find your Italian Purim gear at Torah.it: E-books, Meghillat Ester ready for smartphone, children’s games, traditional Italian songs, essays and much more!
The feast of Purim commemorates an event which took place 2500 years ago in Persia, during the reign of Assuero. The Book of Esther tells us that Haman, the king’s wicked counselor, wanted to exterminate the Jewish people – men, women and children. Through the intercession of Queen Esther, a beautiful young Jewish woman who had married the king without revealing her Jewish origins, and her uncle Mordechai, the leader of the Jewish community, the Jews were saved and the counselor and his cohorts were punished. In memory of this marginal escape from danger, the feast of Purim was established – the word itself being derived from the Hebrew term for “fate” or “lots”. The perfidious Haman apparently chose a date for the massacre by casting lots.
Given the ‘earthly’ features of the feast of Purim and the emphasis on concealed meaning, it is even more interesting to consider the analogy proposed by the masters of the Kabbalah and adopted by the Chassidic rabbis. They allowed that the feast of Purim was strictly tied to Kippur, or the day of fasting and atonement. Kippur, which means “expiation”, is called kippurìm in the Bible, the plural form of Kippur. It is fascinating to note however, that kippurim is similar to ke-purim, which in Hebrew means “like Purim”. Read
The story of Esther, related biblical narratives, and their interpreters, speak with diverse voices with respect to the issue of tensions and ties between Jews and non-Jews.
Correspondingly, the ways in which these stories have been interpreted and mobilized for social ends, have shifted according to circumstances. This diversity of expression will be explored by reference to several popular religious and dramatic forms that developed among the Jews in Tripoli, Libya, in recent centuries. The data available on these developments are not extensive, but are detailed enough to stimulate discussion and encourage further research on the ways in which Purimlinked motifs became part of the interpretation of ongoing events. The case of Purim, furthermore, should enrich our overall appreciation of the dynamics by which biblical texts animated (and continue to animate) life in Jewish communities. Read
Once Upon a Time, There Was Bagitto. By Adam Smulevich, Pagine Ebraiche
When the journalist Enrico Levi, writing in Livorno around the turn of the 19thcentury, received notices from the Jewish community, he threw them in the garbage without so much as a glance. “They call it picturesque, but the “Bagitto” dialect is disgusting to the ear,” he commented disdainfully. Long under-appreciated and often a subject for comic imitations, the vernacular of Livorno’s Jewish population has never found an admiring audience among intellectuals. A lowly language even in its origins – from “bajo”, the Spanish “bajito” means “little, unworthy thing” – Bagitto developed as a mixed tongue in the 18th century coastal city of Livorno.
SCOLA NOVA NY
Scola Nova NY is the itinerant Italian Synagogue in New York. Don’t miss it, follow its journeys throughout the city!
Rav Elio Toaf, “Fate Onore al Bel Purim”. Audio link from the National Sound Archive of Israel National Library.